Lahore: Religious and religio-political parties have held rallies across Pakistan to protest against the death sentence awarded to Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the self-confessed assassin of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, and to press the government for his early release.
Qadri, one of Taseer`s own elite security force protectors, had shot the then Punjab governor dead on January 04 because of his vocal opposition to the blasphemy law that was recently used to sentence a Pakistani-Christian woman, Asia Bibi, to death.
An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Rawalpindi had sentenced Qadri, the self-confessed murderer of Taseer, to death last Saturday, saying that it was a heinous crime and there was no justification to it.
A declaration unanimously adopted at an all parties’ conference hosted under the banner of Tehrik Tahaffuz Namoos-e-Risalat (TNR), two days back, had demanded immediate dismissal of the Rawalpindi judge who pronounced the judgment, announcing a countrywide protest on October 07 against the verdict.
In Lahore, the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) rally emerged from Data Darbar and culminated at Nasir Bagh. The participants were carrying flags and placards and banners inscribed with writings condemning the court decision and demand of early release of Mumtaz Qadri, The Nation reports.
At a rally in the City, SIC leaders warned the rulers of long march to Islamabad if Mumtaz Qadri was not released.
Addressing the participants, SIC president MNA Sahibzada Fazal Karim offered President Asif Ali Zardari a guarantee of a full five-year term to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government in exchange of Qadri’s release.
He questioned the release of double accused CIA operative Raymond Davis and capital punishment to Mumtaz Qadri, a lover of the Holy Prophet. He said that none of the terrorists were hanged in many years, but a Holy Prophet’s lover was being sentenced to death to please the enemies of Islam.
Ulema and khatibs delivered special sermons on the issue of blasphemy and West-funded conspiracies to amend the relevant laws, vowing to resist all such moves with full might.
Demonstrations were held outside mosques to condemn the ATC verdict and to press the government for the release of Qadri.
Leading a demonstration at Multan Road, Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Liaquat Baloch said that Qadri had opted for the path of Ghazi Ilam Din Shaheed and his conviction was against Islam.
He warned the rulers to correct themselves and cautioned the tiny secular lobby in the country against playing with the religious sentiments of the masses.
He alleged that the United States, the Pope at the Vatican and the foreign-funded NGOs had been pressurising Zardari to amend the country’s blasphemy law, but Pakistani people had foiled the conspiracy.
Tehrik Tahafuz Namoos Risalat (TNR) leaders also staged a demo at Chauburji, where various leaders warned the rulers of a tough movement if they ignored sentiments of the masses on this highly sensitive religious issue.